On Desert Rose

On Desert Rose, for guitar quartet

Date of composing June 2017

Genre program Romantic piece, fantasy, musical poem

Style Neo-Romantic, Romantic, Arabic ethnic

Duration [11′]

Level of difficulty intermediate

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini   all rights reserved

Description

In D, Lontano. Lento sostenuto.  A program composition inspired by Arabian desert, its nature and culture, and based on the poem composed specifically for this music by Natalia Pispini.

In spring 2017, I received the suggestion from classical guitarist César Mora to compose a piece for his ensemble Cairo Guitar Collective based in Cairo, Egypt. The proposition was to compose music which would reflect Arabic elements. I liked the idea and the new challenge of composing for the guitar. Some years ago I have visited the National Museum in Riyadh where I was impressed by the desert rose, the rock formation with amazing scheme of rose petals (the photo of this rock is used in the image above). So, I thought of the desert like metaphor of death, loneliness, indifference, while the rose could symbolize life, love, expectations… Thus, the fabula, then the poem and the music were created.

Poem

ON  DESERT  ROSE

… no one can see her beauty

after the wind ’s soft blowing

the desert rose’s come to life at night

 

her unexpected beauty

 

and in the morning  – a breathless rock again

one has to guard another spring

as month shaban ’ll be coming

in hazy gleams of sickle moon hilal

guard as it ‘ll breeze from south …

 

Program plot can be described as following:

It had happened in a lonely desert. There was a stone desert rose. Once by night, in spring, in month shaban, under the crescent moon hilal, after the south wind the stone desert rose had become an alive flower. It revealed its shining beauty but nobody could see it in the desert at night. The morning and the sunrise came, and the rose became a stone again.

Musical themes

The main musical themes are those of

desert (mm.1-16),

night and loneliness (mm. 16-19, 28-39),

crescent moon (mm. 50-53),

south wind (mm. 63-66),

desert rose crystal stone (mm. 20-26),

desert rose as a beautiful flower (mm. 112-127),

morning light of the sunrise (mm. 156-169).

Musical structure

The musical structure is a long Romantic program piece with 4 major sections:

Introduction (Lontano) It’s like the beginning of a fairy-tale. Refers to the place of the story, the Arabian desert.

Exposition (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso. Con moto etc., letters A-B) shows the initial situation (it is night in the desert, there is a stone rose, and the crescent moon is on the sky, and the south wind is blowing).

Middle Section (Meno mosso. Più mosso etc., letters C-D) describes how the stone rose became an alive flower, and show its beauty.

Final Section (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso, letters E-F-G) reminds about the desert, night and loneliness, and leads to the end of the story (the morning is coming with the sunrise, and the rose becomes a stone again).

Arabic influence

When composing this music, the particular elements of Arabic music were used.

Sometimes the texture is affected by the Arabic oud playing manners.

There are so called ‘arabesques’ ornamenting the melody.

Finally, the Arabic maqams are represented:

Hijaz (themes of desert, night and loneliness),

Saba (theme of the stone desert rose),

Bayati (theme of moon),

Huzam (themes of the wind and the rose flower).

These maqams are interpreted as elements of Romantic / Neo-Romantic music style.

Performance notes

All the tempo changes are suggested by the composer and can be revised or omitted by the musicians according to their taste and professional level. Since the music has a character of a fantasy / fairy story, it’s tempo rubato can be played in various ways.

View the score sample

Listen to MIDI excerpt on YouTube

 

Wind, don’t take me away!

20160315_170538

Composed as an assignment  when taking Coursera course ‘Survey of Music Technology’ (Georgia Tech) (in winter 2016-2017), that was my first attempt to make something not in classical but in popular manner. The style here could be described as a mixture of  ‘funk’ and ‘ambient’… I included ethnic instruments sounds, natural sounds from EarSketch sound library… There are two moments which are personally remarkable for me in this music: 1) I used the live recording I have made in Kuwait, on the stony seashore during a stormy weather. The track is incorporated into the composition in a form of regularly distributed short fragments (so the stormy wind would sound in rhythm). 2) It was written in EarSketch API, with Python code, and that was a real challenge for me since I am not an IT specialist. Although it is not very clear when listening, the initial and the final parts of this music are based on stochastic functions (and that was the point of programming, otherwise you could do the same work, or even better, in DAW).

Listen to the track on SoundCloud

In Yellow…sh Waves

This is my first ever electronic composition created in DAW software. Initially it was composed as an assignment in Coursera course ‘Survey of Music Technology’ (from Georgia Tech), under the title ‘In Yellow Waves’. The music is based on my earlier composition ‘In Yellow Waves I’ for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums. I ‘dressed’ the winds’ parts in MIDI synth sound and the drums were completely rearranged. Various sound samples from the Ear Sketch sound library, and MIDI and audio recorded tracks had been added to the mix. The composition was made with Reaper DAW.

The images and the spirit of this music are different from those in the original piece. While working, I was thinking on the desert as a place of adventure, maybe not always friendly…To induce that feeling I used recording of my voice saying sh-sh sound, which eventually had been reflected in the title.

Title In Yellow…sh Waves

Date of composing September 2016

Genre electronic

Style contemporary (cinematic, horror)

Duration [1’48”]

Copyright © 2016 Natalia Pispini

Listen on SoundCloud

 

In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

InYellowWaves_title

 

  1. Larghetto e dondolante
  2. Allegretto energico

 Genre contrapuntal pieces

Date of composing October 2014, November 2016 – revised (I); March 2017 (II)

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’57”], [1’47”]

Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2017 Natalia Pispini

Description

The idea of these pieces occurred after the trip through the Arabian desert. The highway crossed endless sand-dunes which took bizarre dark-yellow color due to the car’s UV-protected windows. The view of that sand ocean together with the huge sun disk hanging indifferently in the sky had left an unforgettable image. Thus ‘In Yellow Waves I’ was created. Later I composed the second piece, a ‘companion’ with similar conception of undulating melody but contrasting by tempo, rhythm and character.

In both compositions the contrapuntal polyphonic technique of canon (strict or free) was applied. The texture keeps canon fragments coming and disappearing, or it may change intervals. The drums (one player) perform rhythmic accompaniment. Bitonality (I) and bimodality (II) bring more chilly and dissonant sound. Another distinctive feature is the uneven meter 7/8 in the second piece.

The following instruments are used for the drums part:

I – acoustic bass drum, acoustic snare, hi-hat, 2 hanging toms and a floor tom, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, tambourine, triangle, cowbell.

II – acoustic bass drum, acoustic snare, hi-hat, 2 hanging toms and a floor tom, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, China cymbal, tambourine.

To learn the further details, to look at the score and the audio samples and to purchase the scores, please click on the links below.

In Yellow Waves I

In Yellow Waves II

In Yellow Waves II, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

 

From ‘In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

Date of composing March 2017

Genre contrapuntal piece

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’47”]

Level of difficulty advanced

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini

Description

In C/G, Allegretto energico. Waving melody principle once again (after The Yellow Waves I) is employed in this piece. The uneven meter 7/8 together with complex syncopations and accents bring particular drive to this composition. Polyphonic technique of free canon is used (when the voice-follower imitates the interval number and not the quality). Two canon voices – trumpet (leader) and saxophone (follower) – are in different tonalities (C and G) and modes, so the basic canon interval is the fourth but not necessary. In B and A2 sections of the simple quaternary form AA1BA2 the canon intervals are changing, and by the end the canon structure is dissolving. The drums (one player part) accompany the canon.

Performance notes

Quick changes of legato, non legato, staccato and glissando, in combination with ‘jumping’ melody and specific accentuation constitute technical difficulties in this piece for trumpet and saxophone players. The trills are always with the note above, tone or semitone apart. The drums part requires good foot technique.

The drums notation:

InYellowWaves2DrumsNotation

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score

Learn about the first piece in the same opus, In Yellow Waves I

 

In Yellow Waves I, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

From ‘In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

Date of composing October 2014; November 2016 – revised

Genre contrapuntal piece

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’57”]

Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

In C/A, Larghetto e dondolante. The swaying motion of this piece is imitating moves along sand-dunes. Hard-swinging rhythm, triplets and syncopation refer to jazz style. The structure is simple ternary form ABA1 with a brief introduction. The texture is more sophisticated with a polyphonic strict canon which is ‘scattering’ by the end of the composition. Two canon voices – trumpet (leader) and saxophone (follower) – are in different tonalities (C and A), and the canon interval is the major third. The drums (one player) accompany the canon.

Performance notes

Combination of legato and glissando is the primary playing technique here for trumpet and saxophone players. The extended pitch range is applied. The percussion set includes triangle and cowbell. The triangle sound is of two qualities: 1) the normal sound, and 2) the quieter sound (out of the inner area of the instrument).

The drums notation:

InYellowWaves1DrumsNotation

 

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score

Learn about second piece in the same opus, In Yellow Waves II